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Evans offers a dose of reality

Modern-day football can be truly unforgiving.

Trigger-happy chairman make it a dangerous game for managers, even just a few weeks into a role, while footballers’ every action on the pitch is scrutinised to the maximum.

Fans’ instant demand for success means that past achievement is soon forgotten and that is something Millers boss Steve Evans is finding out this season.

The job Evans has done at New York is no secret.

He took the club from the depths of League Two to the Championship in just two seasons and did it with an exciting brand of high-energy, attacking football.

But with the Millers struggling for results in the second tier this campaign, Evans has been forced into calling for a dose of reality.

Seven games without a win, which is the worst run of Evans’ tenure in South Yorkshire, has seen them slip from lower mid-table to fourth from bottom and the nature of some performances have been alarming, considering that six of those matches came against bottom-half opposition.

But amid the abject performance that saw Birmingham breeze to the three points at New York a fortnight ago, it is easy to forget that just two years ago there were far worse displays against teams – with the greatest of respect – that were much worse.

While Millers fans are rightly disappointed at their current seven-game winless run, of which six of those teams have played in the Premier League, it is only two seasons ago that they were aghast at a 5-0 walloping to Dagenham and dire home defeats to Barnet and Bristol Rovers, both of who slipped out of the Football League that year.

Of course, that does not exempt the Millers from criticism or give them a free ride this season.

Evans has had 100 per cent backing in the transfer market in order to build a squad capable of cutting it at this level, bringing in 21 players and smashing the club-record transfer fee twice.

But the boss believes it should serve as a reminder that it was always going to be a tough campaign.

“We've gone up to a tough league,” he said. “I've watched games in League One this week and the gulf is very evident when you watch it between the Championship and League One.

“It's tough in the Championship but I'd rather Rotherham were having it tough in the Championship than having it very tough in League Two prior to me walking in.

“Two years ago we were playing the likes of Gillingham, Wimbledon and Accrington Stanley. Compare that to Cardiff, Forest and the likes of Wigan

"When you make that huge progress, there are going to have to be times when you find things difficult.

“If you don't make huge progress, how is that identified.

“Look at the clubs who make progress to the Champions League; they get knocked out. Look at clubs like Leicester and Burnley, who absolutely blitzed the Championship last year.

“They go up and in the words of one of those managers now, they couldn't get a kick in the Premier League or keep the ball.

“We are up in the Championship. We had a good spell and now we are having a tough one.

“It is what the Championship is all about, but there's only four points between us and the top half of the table.

“It's that condensed and tight. We are relishing every minute of it, I can tell you.”

Apart from his controversial appointment in April 2012, where fans were split on his arrival, Evans has enjoyed a love-in with Millers fans, owing to the success he has delivered.

But there are perhaps cracks beginning to show, with the Scot attracting more criticism than ever before, while the manager also hit back at fans in his post-match interview last week, responding negatively to comments made on local phone-ins criticising the signing of Tom Lawrence and the form of Kirk Broadfoot.

However, Evans is confident most of the fans are aware of the size of the task this season.

"The bulk of fans know,” he added. “They have been fantastic in their support.

“Our worst performance in two and a half weeks was against Birmingham two weeks ago.

“And I can't remember any bad things happening from the supporters.

“From that point of view, they understand what we are about.

“But I heard the local radio phone-in this week when a Millers fan phoned and had a little moan about Saturday's draw against Blackpool.

“Of all people to then phone in was a Sheffield Wednesday fan, saying: 'Are they serious, given how far they have come in the past two years?'

“Sometimes, in a light-hearted moment from over the M1, a Sheffield Wednesday fan brings it into perspective that we have made huge progress.

“But when you make that progress, football is always about moving forward and not standing still because everyone around you is trying to strengthen.”

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